Rob Bell's New Book— Love Wins

It seems that there are a ton of Christians out there in cyberspace who are prepared to judge Rob Bell before his book has even been published.  As I happen to have the same publisher as Rob now has (Harper),  I called them today and talked to my senior editor this afternoon.   They are tight lipped about the content of the book and the publicist will send me one at the appropriate juncture.  It will then be time to critically evaluate  Rob’s latest thoughts.

In this post,  I have a very different beef—– I must say I am hugely disappointed in people like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, who also haven’t read the book yet, and yet are prepared to condemn Rob— one even saying dismissively— ‘Farewell Rob Bell’.   Frankly this is all too typical of the hyper-Calvinistic wing of the Evangelical world.   Shoot first, ask questions later.   They’ve even given a Reformed Evangelical like Tom Wright this sort of treatment in some cases.

And what should be said to them is— shame on you for prejudging a brother in Christ.  Shame on you for being prepared to pontificate and judge before you have even read what the man has to say.   IS THIS THE SORT OF BEHAVIOR JESUS WOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT?   I think not.   And even it it turns out there are some unBiblical ideas or thoughts in Rob’s new book, shouldn’t the approach to the matter be to first ‘go to the brother’ and gently talk to him personally about these things before  twittering, tweeting, or blogging about the matter?     Yes indeed, that is what Jesus told us to do, frankly.   He also said,  “judge not, lest you be judged”, and what he seems to have meant by that is “don’t write someone off as hell bound, lest you be judged by the same standard’, which by the way, is exactly what Rob wants us to talk about.   How about extracting some of the logs in your own eye first, before trying to be the optician of Rob Bell?    In the meanwhile, as my granny would have said,  the ethics of some Evangelical commentators is not merely going to pot,  its  ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ :)

More later, when the book comes out.   In the meantime all fair minded Christians should hold their fire.

  • http://www.jonrising.blogspot.com Jon Rising

    I largely agree with what you have written here, Ben.

    But, I do have a question, How upset are you — and would granny have been — about publishers and authors who tease out a book in a provocative way?

    Just wondering.

  • http://www.mattoreilly.net Matt O’Reilly

    Hi Dr. Witherington,

    I agree that Bell’s critics should have waited to read the book before actually criticizing it. And if they were intending to criticize the promo video, then they should have been more clear, though promo videos are notorious for being hard to pin down and not necessarily communicating what will actually be said in the book.

    What I’m curious about is your suggestion that the critics should have contacted Bell personally if they had an issue with potentially unBiblical ideas in the book. I tend to think that once something comes out in print in public, it is fair game for fair and public reviews (journals, blogs, etc.). Surely we don’t expect every potential Christian reviewer to contact an author before reviewing his or her work to discuss the criticisms. I guess my question is: When something is in print, haven’t we gone past the one-on-one phase to a public discussion phase? You and I both have written public critiques of books with which we disagree; I haven’t contacted the authors beforehand. Do you? Should I start? I have heard of some doing it on occassion, if there is a really big, big issue, in order to make sure the reviewer is understanding what has been written. But my guess is that most of the folks out there writing reviews are not contacting authors before publishing critiques.

    Thanks,
    Matt O’Reilly

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben witherington

    Matt I think it depends on the seriousness of the issue. If it is a very serious issue and we are talking about a very influential Christian leader, then yes various of his friends should go to him personally. Of course they should. I don’t think its incumbent on all of us— after all, he’s got a huge audience. I do think, its incumbent on some of us, particularly those who know him well.

    As for Jon’s comment, I hear that, but we have no control over what secular publishers are going to do. I’ve just learned to live with it and take it for what it is— epideictic rhetoric, a sales pitch.

    BW3

  • Ed

    I remember very well the uproar from these same hyper-Calvinists when N.T. Wright’s book, “Justification” was released. To me the reaction then and now with Rob Bell’s book is very unChristlike.

  • http://www.mattoreilly.net Matt O’Reilly

    Thanks for clarifying. I absolutely agree that people who have a personal relationship with an author ought to discuss disagreements before putting it all in print.

    Matt

  • Clay Knick

    You’re spot on, Ben. Good post.

  • John

    Ben you fail to realize they aren’t judging Bell for a book that they haven’t read but what’s he been saying in his promotion of the book.

    LOL and it’s hilarious that one hand you condemn them for not approaching Bell in private (even though Bell did not make an offense personally to them nor did he do this in private {youtube, vimeo etc..}) and on the other hand you condemn them publicly. Your hypocrisy is showing, I suggest you cover it up.

    Ben I assume it bugs you alot that Paul would even go as far as to criticize Peter publicly rather then talking to him in private. Ben does it bug you when Jude gets off topic about our common salvation and begins talking about contending earnestly for the faith? Ben I wonder had you been living in the times of the apostles when they were combating gnosticism would you have been there waving a finger at them judging them? Who’s side would you have been on the Apostles or the “super apostles” side? Your fanfare to Rob Bell is sickening how much you worship him, tell me does your worship of him replace Christ?

  • http://baptismandthebigpicture.blogspot.com/ Matt Viney

    I agree with Ben.
    I might add that I think the teaser video coupled with the title of the book hint that Bell IS moving in the universalist direction. That seems to be the natural ‘direction’ of the promotional material. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see.

    I realise that those who’ve been quick to attack Bell have jumped the gun. That’s simply not good enough. However I think this whole debacle has brought to the surface some underlying tension between Bell and the broader Evangelical community.

    This whole thing will be a big learning experience for a lot of people.

    Matt Viney

  • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

    My original position was this:

    Fully understanding the importance of God’s wrath on those apart from Christ, or as fully as my tiny, finite, human brain can comprehend Scripture, I don’t think this video is enough to condemn the book, or his views outright. I say this because he makes a very valid point about people viewing Jesus as saving us from God, and the appearance that such a God cannot be loving. I would hope that to most Christians, that the answer would be clear, but it depends on how Bell addresses this point, and I only see one of two ways:

    1) Jesus saves us from ourselves by saving us from our sin nature and actions of sin, whether of commission or omission, that make us deserve Hell. If Bell addresses this by showing how God is good, righteous, and loving in the punishment of sin, and equally so in extending grace through Christ, then I’d say he framed the question very well (to get the attention of both Christians and non-Christians) and answered it adequately and accurately.
    2) He could also affirm that we deserve Hell, and then stray from Scripture by saying that God effectually extends and applies grace to everyone through Christ, resulting in Hell containing nothing more than Satan and demons, which isn’t Biblical.

    I don’t know that I have high hopes for this book, given what I’ve heard about “Velvet Elvis”, but I think we should all be prayerfully discerning before condemning someone as apostate or as a heretic solely on the basis of a promo video designed to get the hook in someone’s mouth.

    In this post, Kevin DeYoung mentions that the commotion isn’t over what Bell MIGHT say in his book, but rather what he DID say in the video.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/02/28/bell-brouhaha/

    Haven’t had time to formulate further thoughts on that as I’ve been too busy to care about whether Bell’s a good Christian, a heretic, apostate, or just a moron.

    One thing is clear, we must defend the gospel, it’s the nature of how the defense plays out that seems to be the issue.

  • Rick Danielson

    I like this snippet from Christopher LaTondress’s Huffington Post article re: Rob Bell and the Piper tweet:

    “Christians should hope that all people can be (and will be) saved. Hell: Population 0.”

    Reading the comments of many self-identified evangelicals in the last day or so makes me think people would be terribly disappointed if God had mercy on everyone. As though heaven would be less enjoyable if it had to be shared with someone like Ghandi. Apart from a small amount of reasonable discussion on theological differences, I see a deep disconnect from people God created and loves that does not have a lot of Jesus in it.

  • John

    By your own logic, shouldn’t you have gone to the Reformed brothers in private, and asked Dr. Piper what he meant by his ambiguous three-word tweet?

    Bell put his thoughts in a public forum. He’s said plenty of questionable things in previous books. He’s a pastor responsible for the souls of those who embrace his teaching. He can’t make a provocative video and not expect to get called out.

  • Matt Blowers

    While I agree that we should wait until we have read a book before we read it, this is a case where the PUBLISHER and AUTHOR of the book are promoting it with heresy. Maybe it will turn out that it’s just a smokescreen that is being used to create buzz and that is certainly working. However, the promo material does look pretty damning on the surface. Your criticism of Piper and Driscol is a little shrill. Call them out on the merits of what they did, not on the grounds of their being part of the “hyper-Calvinistic wing”. I believe such name calling is just as uncharitable as they are accused of being. So I put your own question back to you “IS THIS THE SORT OF BEHAVIOR JESUS WOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT?” I’m a student at Asbury and am by no means reformed, but we need to be above this. Again, call them out if you think they are wrong, but do it on the evidence at hand not some hyperbolic histrionics.

  • http://www.providenceseminary.ca Clinton Kroeker

    Personally I think some damage has already been done by the video. Granted, it is ambiguous enough to perhaps keep the collective of pastors and theologians at bay until it is released.

    But what about those members of my congregation that lean on Rob Bell for guidance? What will they hear in the video? It is painfully obvious. And that might be enough, combined with a skilfully produced medium, to throw their opinion over the edge.

    I plan to read the book when it comes out. I hope Bell turns it around. But even if he does, some damage has already occurred.

    P.S. I find it interesting that you categorized Driscoll and Piper as Hyper-Calvinists, and then called their comments typical behavior. Could you please elaborate on how you arrived at assigning them those categories and that behavior as typical? Thanks Ben!

  • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt

    Ben, this was a wonderful post! I appreciate someone of your stature calling out the folks who jumped the gun on this one and chose to cast the first stone.

    For me, I see this now as a pastoral issue. I describe such a situation on my blog today. If anyone is interested, click on my name as I have linked it to my site.

    I will certainly look forward to your blog about the book after it comes out!

  • Riley

    The issue is with what Rob Bell revealed in his promotional video, not in what his book will discuss. It is an natural culmination of what he has been espousing over the last number of months.

  • steve hays

    “In this post, I have a very different beef—– I must say I am hugely disappointed in people like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, who also haven’t read the book yet, and yet are prepared to condemn Rob…And even it it turns out there are some unBiblical ideas or thoughts in Rob’s new book, shouldn’t the approach to the matter be to first ‘go to the brother’ and gently talk to him personally about these things before twittering, tweeting, or blogging about the matter?”

    Did you first go to John Piper and Mark Driscoll and gently talk to them personally before blogging about your grievances?

  • Bill

    Rob Bell opinions via his video were public and did not require a one on one discussion. The statements had to be addressed publicly.If theses were made just to sell a book ,it was very unwise. He judged himself. The questioned to be asked, “Is Christ happy with these statements made on this video?” The blogs I read were not unfair. They addressed some very damaging statements. It is one thing for someone to offend me as an individual and I keep the offense between the two of us and we work it out according to scripture. His statments were made to all who wanted to hear therefore they had to be addressed so that all who want to hear or read them could do so. I disagree with your perspective. I appreciate it but disagree.

  • steve hays

    “Frankly this is all too typical of the hyper-Calvinistic wing of the Evangelical world. Shoot first, ask questions later…And what should be said to them is— shame on you for prejudging a brother in Christ. Shame on you for being prepared to pontificate and judge before you have even read what the man has to say.”

    But Justin Taylor, whose post set the ball in motion, says he did rely on firsthand knowledge of the book. So did you actually read Justin’s post, or are you bouncing off of 2nd/3rd-hand hostile accounts of what “the hyper-Calvinistic wing” said? If so, aren’t you “shooting first, asking questions later?”

  • Matt

    Justin Taylor said in an update “I have not read all of Bell’s book, though I have read some chapters that were sent to me. When the book is published there will be detailed reviews, and I will link to them. I think that the publisher’s description combined with Bell’s video is sufficient evidence to suggest that he thinks hell is empty and that God’s love (which desires all to be saved) is always successful”

    From what I can see Piper et al wanted to condemn Bell without sufficient evidence, and Ben is upset that Piper and friends can condemn (to hell, as if they are God) someone in public without taking appropriate steps or reading the darn book! I think Ben is right here.

    Personally, I thought Bell’s video was interesting and hinted toward orthodoxy (at least it felt that way to me). So… I think I will wait and see what happens when the book is released.

  • JoeyS

    For those who think Ben is being hypocritical I’d urge you to consider if you are comparing like assaults. The Neo-Cal crowd didn’t just critique or act disappointed – they went further and called Bell a heretic, said he has departed from Biblical christianity and orthodoxy. This is a far cry different than Dr. Witherington saying that he is disappointed in them for their decrees.

    If you want to play the game your way though, let’s just call you out for calling BW3 a hypocrite publicly. Then take it a step further and call me out for calling you out. In fact, we could just create an entire culture centered on calling each other out for calling each other out! That would spread like yeast through the dough!

    Really, Ben expressing disappointment is not even in the same category as Piper dismissing Bell, potentially, to hell and definitely to heresy.

  • Paul

    John (above) wrote of Ben: “Your fanfare to Rob Bell is sickening how much you worship him, tell me does your worship of him replace Christ?”
    Really? I mean, really? I can think of no context in which this comment is appropriate. It is condescending and disrespectful.
    Ben may not ask for one, but an apology should be made.

  • steve hays

    JoeyS

    “For those who think Ben is being hypocritical I’d urge you to consider if you are comparing like assaults. The Neo-Cal crowd didn’t just critique or act disappointed – they went further and called Bell a heretic, said he has departed from Biblical christianity and orthodoxy.”

    You hide behind a conveniently vague “they.” But Justin Taylor, for one, was very qualified in what he said.

    “This is a far cry different than Dr. Witherington saying that he is disappointed in them for their decrees.”

    That’s far from all that BW3 said in this post, and you know it.

    “If you want to play the game your way though, let’s just call you out for calling BW3 a hypocrite publicly. Then take it a step further and call me out for calling you out. In fact, we could just create an entire culture centered on calling each other out for calling each other out! That would spread like yeast through the dough!”

    So you have one standard for the “Neo-Cal crowd” and another standard for your own kind.

    “Really, Ben expressing disappointment is not even in the same category as Piper dismissing Bell, potentially, to hell and definitely to heresy.”

    Quote Piper consigning him to hell.

  • Shamgar

    “For those wanting my take on Rob Bell & his new book I won’t make a personal statement until I’ve read the book. I’m praying for the best & fearing the worst as I know a bit from behind the scenes” – This is the only clear statement that I’m aware Driscoll has made regarding Rob Bell’s new book. Is this what passes for hyper-calvinist condemnation these days? Even Piper’s comment of “Farewell, Rob Bell” is too ambiguous to definitively support the accusations that are floating around here. Also, why is there no mention in this blog post of Justin Taylor who wrote the article that Piper and Driscoll were directly referencing in their comments? If you have a legitimate gripe, should that post not be the primary reference? Once you’ve engaged with that, perhaps you should consider Kevin DeYoung’s rebuttal of criticisms already made.

    I too am disappointed by the ethics of some evangelical commentators who use prejudiced interpretations to publicly grind axes against those they have pigeon-holed, but today, it’s not calvinists that are at fault.

    For reference:
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/02/26/rob-bell-universalist/
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/02/28/bell-brouhaha/

  • http://covenantoflove.net Derek

    John’s comment (#7) is absurd to the nth degree.
    I agree with Paul, an apology should be made.

  • RickC

    Well, if the wayfarin’ wrangler is truly remiss and his bell ain’t ringing true than why not simply ask him to raise his hands aand drop his guns until the matter is investigated. If he’s found a wantin’, then shoot him out of the saddle or at the very least let him shovel the bull patties out of the back forty over into the back-back forty and all to be done in one week-end. But this piping hot judgemental nonsense has natrually just got to stop.

    Mean while, the school marm needs some fixin’ to be done at the school house, an act of pure charity on the part of a few good men. But alas it can’t be done ’cause were all shootin’ at each other.

  • Jon

    I think we would maker a bigger difference for the kingdom is we would just start telling the world about Christ and quit fussing over the unknown of a book. The people that need Jesus don’t even know who Rob Bell is nor do they care.

  • jane

    i,ve been hearing much about the love wins book,my teenage son came home one night after church talking about the out cry its causing he was actually up set,he likes bell very much.we talked it through looked at the promo,although it does seem to say something, unless you read the book theres no way you can really tell what he,s saying,i,m going to get the book,and i actually like the fact that in a world of hate and judgement,sadly even in the church that can be said to be true,i like to think that the message of the cross rings out true that love actually does win,a world that has lost hope would be very happy to hear that.looking forwards to reading the book.Bet the sales go through the roof after all the drama.
    thanks

  • http://nestheology.org Pennoyer

    The negative “reviews” I read made it clear that they were based on what Bell and the publisher had teasingly disclosed.

    But that is not all the reviewers had to go on, is it?

    There is a history here and it has nothing to do with Calvinism or Wesleyanism or whatever. Bell has a history of not allowing his theology to be controlled by the text of Scripture. (Just read the horrendous but important chapter “Yoke” in his Velvet Elvis.) Based on all this, the reviewers have a right to be concerned.

  • Paul

    I just re-read the “horrendous chapter” in Velvet Elvis. I thought it was a great chapter. I’m not sure what was horrendous about it. I found it refreshing and helpful. It made me want to open my Bible with renewed amazement and re-committed diligence to understand it better and know its Author better. Thank you Pennoyer.

  • http://followingchristwithoutabox.blogspot.com dan waits

    I plan to read Mr. Bell’s book, simply out of curiousity, if for nothing else ;-)

    I’ve always thought that God is not only the very progenitor of love, but is so holy that to look directly on Him would likely vaporize us.

    And that holiness & our sinfulness cannot coexist. It’s like oil & water not being able to mix, taken to the infinite power.

    The most uncomfortable truth I’ve been dealing with in the last 10 yrs or so is that a lot of really wonderful people that I love & like are going to go to hell.

    For instance, I really like Oprah. I don’t buy into everything she touts, but as a person, I really like her – she’s be interesting to know.

    I really like the Dali Lama. I think he would be very intriguing to know.

    The same goes for many people like that – I may not like everything they do or say, but I think they’re really interesting.

    And if we use the standard of “I am the Way, the Truth, & the Life – no one comes to the Father but by me”, well, they’re indeed going to go to hell.

    Because God still sees their sinfulness, & that sinfulness can’t coexist with God.

    But if we trust Jesus to be the one who saves our butt, as our substitute, then God doesn’t see the sin, has forgiven it, & has forgotten about it.

    It will be interesting how this will all shake out, over the next few months & years, as well as in eternity.

  • Aaron Miller

    and just for facts sake. Mark Driscoll has given a link to the Justin Taylor blog and said this on facebook, “For those wanting my take on Rob Bell & his new book I won’t make a personal statement until I’ve read the book. I’m praying for the best & fearing the worst as I know a bit from behind the scenes.”

    dont see that as really jumping the gun.

  • http://www.everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Well said Ben!

  • GerryNorth

    I can’t agree with you. Bell and his publisher’s promo for the book have been released with the sole objective of creating just this sort of controversy. If Bell really cared, he could have just realeased a statement clarifying his position. Leaving the controversy open helps his book’s sales. He is like so many others who care more about publicity than about furthering Christ’s kingdom.

  • JB

    I’m curious, did you mean to label Piper and Driscoll as hyper-Calvinists in the formal sense or were you just saying they are extremely Calvinistic? A Hyper-Calvinist and a Calvinist (even a really zealous one) are quite distinct.

  • Grev

    Excellent Comment!

    “If Bell really cared, he could have just realeased a statement clarifying his position. Leaving the controversy open helps his book’s sales. He is like so many others who care more about publicity than about furthering Christ’s kingdom.”

  • Grev

    To add further to post #34. With quite a degree of familarity with the emerging church movement, I have little problem accepting that Bell does embrace some form of universalism.

    Without having read the book. The video definitely points to that.

    He knows the controversy and he needs to clarify.

  • Jacob

    Interesting read. I will read Rob Bells book, but I am unsure of his point, and am worried where he is heading. here is the comment I would like to make. Bell says in his video “Christians sometimes make it sound like Jesus saves us from God.” But we know that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. I do not have high hopes for this book, or for Rob Bell, but I will read his book as a way to see what he believes.

    On a side note, it is interesting that I picked up your blog. I just finished reading one of your commentaries for seminary.

  • Darryl

    Grev (#35),

    Just for clarification, Bell has never claimed any affiliation with EC (or anyone else). He has stated several times that he’s definitely not a part of Emergent Village or anything that’s associated with it.

  • Leanne

    Thank you Dr. Witherington for a timely and good response.

    I have not found John Piper to agree with many people and Mark Driscoll is quite rough around the edges in his delivery of his opinions also. Thought Driscoll has stated he will not judge before he reads the book, his tweets have been a bit cutting in ways to Bell’s controversy. So it doesn’t surprise me they have tweeted negatively about Rob Bell even before really reading the book.

    While I agree those who critique others should first go to the person and discuss their differences, I would add the words they choose to critique a fellow Christian in public should be chosen more carefully. Piper’s “farewell Rob Bell” post sounded like excommunication not like he wanted to have the doors of communication open between Bell and himself or even between Bell and the rest of the Christian culture.
    One of the posts I appreciated by you Dr. Witherington was your discussion with Dr. Stone. It demonstrated how Christians should sound as they debate theological issues while still loving and respecting each other. It would have been nice if Piper would have chosen to be more constructive than destructive.

  • http://www.fingertoe.com Josh R

    Are you sure Piper has not read the book? Where did you read that? There are quite a few copies floating around. I see bloggers reviewing the book who have it in their hand. I am sure Piper could get his hands on one as well.

    Based on what I saw, Driscoll declined comment, although he did express concern. I am sure people where asking him for comment, and his response was more or less “I am concerned, but I will reserve comment until after I read the book”

    Seems like you are doing the same thing you accuse others of doing? You are being critical based on inaccurate assumed facts.

    Here is the biggest problem. The strongest defense for Bell is that his promotional videos are “Just being provocative” or is “Trying to start a conversation”. It worked. Get over it. You can’t try to start a conversation, then yell foul when people engage.

  • http://www.fingertoe.com Josh R

    As far as I am concerned this is a complete Slander of Driscoll.

    Show me his comment.

  • http://www.sbctomorrow.com peter lumpkins

    Dr. W

    Thank you for a fair-minded response to TGC blogging crew–not to mention Piper, Driscoll whom you cited but also, Al Mohler & Denny Burk whom you didn’t cite–in their decidedly hack job on Bell. Not a single one of those mentioned raises theological eyebrows against J. Stott for views closer to Bell’s allaged views than to TGC entourage. Yet before the book has wet ink, they aim their guns and fire at Bell (whose views & methodology, by the way, from what I already know, I’m not in agreement). Could this be because he’s an emergent misfit? Mohler seems to suggest such in his post.

    Anyways, thanks again.
    With that, I am…
    Peter

  • http://www.therieslands.com Zack

    I agree with the two comments above.

    Driscoll has not gone on record anywhere saying anything about this book.

    And what’s more: you commit the very sin you accuse others of here by failing to address the grievance privately.

    And on top of all of that, there are plenty of blog posts where readers review the actual book.

    Here’s one I found by googling for 44 seconds:

    http://thetenthleper.com/2011/03/01/review-love-wins-by-rob-bell-part-i-some-introductory-thoughts/

    He quotes Bell in the book:

    “Hell is a real place, but God’s love will prevail for every person and they will be restored.”

    Bill, I found this post via a tweet. I have never heard of you, but you apparently consider yourself “one of the worlds leading evangelical scholars”. If you want to claim such a lofty title, then you should be above such ill-informed finger-pointing.

    With sincere concern,
    Zack

  • http://www.therieslands.com Zack

    BTW – one of your banner adds at the moment is an advertisement for the Mormon church.

    Seriously.

  • http://www.psephizo.com Ian Paul

    From this side of the Atlantic I have found the response to Bell enlightening.

    I don’t know what teen culture is like in the US, but when I watched the promotional video I could hear my teenager children (and their friends) in the questions. I think these are exactly the kinds of questions young people outside the church have, particularly when they hear Calvinist/conservative evangelical doctrine articulated.

    From the theological perspective, what worries me about the responses so far (apart from being premature) is that they seem to prioritise doctrinal statements in themselves over the text of Scripture, as if any group can define God, rather than have a (confident but) provisional understanding of Scriptural revelation.

    Bell is not the only one who needs to ensure his ideas are open to revision.

    (Dr Witherington, do you have any plans to be in the UK in the near future…?)

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben witherington

    Wow…. alrighty then. An interesting discussion. For the record I have had private exchanges with John Piper, just so you will know. And I also have been critical of some of Rob’s previously published stances. And yes, I have talked to him as well. At this juncture about the only way to get to him is through his publicist.

    But let’s take a brief deep breath, and wait and see what the end of the month reveals. According to the Bible, Hades, the land of the dead will indeed be empty at the final judgment. Some will go on to what Revelation calls the lake of fire, and Jesus calls Gehenna. The debate historically about this ‘final destination’ has been between eternal torment and anihilationism. Many Christians have taken the latter position, which if correct means not universalism (all are saved), but rather that many simply cease to exist, i.e. no ongoing existence in what we call Hell. This is a possible Christian view, and it does not amount to all are saved in the end. I don’t think, at the end of the day, this best explains all the NT evidence.

    Just a little food for thought.

    BW3

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben witherington

    Zack, its not my banners, its Patheos’ banners.

    BW3

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben witherington

    Well, in the it was bound to happen in the good ole U.S.A. you can now officially choose sides between Rob Bell and John Piper by buying and wearing the appropriate T shirt.

    Here’s the link, sent to me by alert reader Omar.

    http://roborjohn.com/

  • rev.spike

    Ben,

    While I agree with you in spirit, I have to say that Bell has it coming in his typical post-modern edgy gimmicky style: “bring them to the edge, dangle them, then…” He wanted to get a rise out of us, and he got exactly what he wanted. I can’t see how he should/would/is disappointed. I’m not likely to buy the book because I tire of this sort of marketing.

  • toddh

    Wow, some of the worst reasoned comments on this thread I have read in a long time. The Piper/Driscoll crowd sure knows how to mix it up and defend their leaders. I’m with those who think that things said publicly in videos or books should be eligible for public criticism. If you want to interact with actual IDEAS and ARGUMENTS that are made in a book, that can be done publicly. But, of course, you would have to actually read the book first in order to do that. A promo video or a few chapters doesn’t count. There’s no need for personal contact, unless it is to damn them to hell for their views or excommunicate them from your tribe. Then a personal visit for coffee is in order. And no, what BW3 is doing here is not the same as what Piper did. Piper very flippantly insinuated that Rob Bell had left the bounds of orthodoxy, BW3 is saying, “hey, that’s not the way Christ would have us work through our theological issues.” Totally different.


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